Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Note From Nancy: The Alchemist's Daughter by Mary Lawrence

It has arrived! The Alchemist's Daughter, by Mary Lawrence, is now available.

I greatly enjoyed this wonderful, refreshing book - but, I am concerned that my review might have gotten lost amidst the many Philippa Gregory audiobooks that I reviewed immediately after. So, I invite you to revisit my review (March 2015) - and, I suggest that you then read the book!

I am excited about the release of this book, and I would love to hear what you think about it!

In my opinion, Bianca's next adventure cannot come soon enough!

Monday, April 13, 2015

TO DWELL IN DARKNESS by Deborah Crombie

Deborah Crombie

            Those who have followed my reviews know that I am a big fan of Deborah Crombie. And, with her latest Duncan Kincaid-Gemma James novel, To Dwell In Darkness, Crombie does not disappoint. As with other Crombie novels, To Dwell In Darkness, left me wrestling with the question whether Crombie is truly a mystery writer or whether she writes literary fiction that just happens to include a mystery.

            In To Dwell In Darkness, Duncan has been transferred, and he and his new team are called to investigate the explosion of an incendiary device by protestors at the St. Pancras International Station. It just so happens that Melody Talbot, Gemma’s detective sergeant, was at St Pancras, listening to Andy and Poppy play at a musical festival, when the protestor set off the device. Was this a terrorist attack? Suicide? Murder? Melody and Doug Cullen, Duncan’s former detective sergeant, help him sort through the convoluted case.

            Meanwhile, Gemma is dealing with her own nasty murder case, and the Kincaid-James household is as lively as ever. Duncan and Gemma’s personal and professional lives collide, as they are wont to do, and the two struggle as they juggle the various responsibilities.

            To Dwell In Darkness is a wonderful book with an interesting plot and with Crombie’s signature rich character development. Crombie has once again captured a nice blend of a rich home life and two challenging jobs. But, Duncan is faced with the realization that his personal and professional lives are not separate, untouching spheres.

            My first thought, after completing this book, was that I want the next book in the series now. Whatever the genre in which she may be writing, Crombie has another masterpiece!


Monday, April 6, 2015


Alison Weir

            I listened on audiobook, rather than read, Alison Weir’s The Lady Elizabeth. Nonetheless, I found the experience to be quite similar to that which I had reading Weir’s first historical novel, Innocent Traitor. Just as that book followed the life of Lady Jane Grey, this followed the life of Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and the future Queen Elizabeth I.

            As with Innocent Traitor, I liked The Lady Elizabeth, although I again did not find the writing to be more than adequate. And, as with that book, I was again left wondering about the historical accuracy of this novel. However, when I completed The Lady Elizabeth, I was left with a sense that I had a better understanding of what Elizabeth had experienced during her lifetime and a better appreciation of her intelligence and savvy, as she walked through a life that was essentially riddled with land mines and rife with dangers at every turn. Her survival prior to becoming queen is, in my opinion, a testament to the remarkable nature of this woman.



Philippa Gregory

            The Kingmaker’s Daughter is another book in Philippa Gregory’s The Cousins’ War series. It essentially tells the same story as The White Queen and The Red Queen, two other books in this series, but this time from the viewpoint of Anne Neville. Once again, I listened to the audio version of this book.

            The Kingmaker was Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick. He had no sons, but he had two daughters, Isabel and Anne. Neville worked hard to place both in positions where they might end up as queen of England.

            This book is narrated by Warwick’s younger daughter, Anne. Through all the twists and turns, it seems as if Warwick’s scheming was for naught. However, Anne took control of her own destiny and married Richard, the Duke of Gloucester and youngest brother of King Edward IV. When Richard ascended the throne, Anne did indeed become Queen of England.

            The Kingmaker’s Daughter is a typical Philippa Gregory book. As with the others that I have read. I was not enamored with the writing or the repetitive plot. Nonetheless, I did find the book to be informative about the Nevilles, people about whom I knew very little.



Philippa Gregory

Although I generally enjoy Tudor era historical novels, I am starting to realize that I am not a big fan of Philippa Gregory. And, I think The Boleyn Inheritance is my least favorite of all the Gregory novels that I have read so far. As with her other books that I have “read”, I listened to The Boleyn Inheritance audiobook.

            In my opinion, The Boleyn Inheritance is very repetitive – to the point that it is tedious. Although I find much of Gregory’s work to be repetitive – different books telling the same story but from a different person’s point of view – this book is more repetitive than usual.

            The Boleyn Inheritance takes up the Tudor story post Anne Boleyn. The story is told through the narration of three women, Jane Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Howard. So, even within the book, the story is repeated, each of the three women telling it from her own perspective. But, putting aside repetition through the series and repetition by each narrator providing her own perspective, there is an even further layer of repetition. Even within the story as told by each one of the three women, I found the book to be unbearably and annoyingly repetitive.

            I am not a historian. But, in listening to The Boleyn Inheritance, I did begin to wonder if Katherine Howard was really as “young” and stupid as Gregory has her portrayed.

            Nonetheless, there is a reason why I continue reading (or, listening to) Gregory’s books, and in this, The Boleyn Inheritance did not disappoint. I learned a great deal about – and gained much respect for – Anne of Cleves. And, I walked away with an understanding as to what the Boleyn Inheritance actually referred.


THE WHITE QUEEN and THE RED QUEEN - both by Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory

            I listened to the audio versions of Philippa Gregory’s Tudor era books, The White Queen and The Red Queen. Both books tell the story of the War of the Roses. The White Queen, however, tells the story from the viewpoint of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward of York, the Plantagenet king. The Red Queen, on the other hand, tells the story from the viewpoint of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, the Lancaster heir and future King Henry VII.

            As I have said in reviews of other books by Gregory, she tells the same story from the points of view of different people. Although this provides different perspectives on the story, the fact remains that it renders her works quite repetitive. Despite this shortcoming, Gregory’s books do leave the reader with insights into the personalities of the characters she uses to narrate the story.